Lawmakers Consider Acquisition of Honolua’s Lipoa Point
By Wendy Osher
State lawmakers are reportedly considering a $20 million appropriation for efforts to acquire Lipoa Point at Honolua on Maui, supporters said.
Under a bill being considered at the Legislature, the state Department of Land and Natural Resources with the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust would work together to acquire the parcel and protect it from development.
The measure also aims to ensure that proceeds of the sale benefit the pension plan of Maui Land and Pineapple Company retirees.
In a Facebook message, officials with the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust announced the news saying, “an iconic landscape is being protected.” The message further stated the following:
“Our bill going through the state Legislature has been approved by conference committee for the full purchase price. We look forward to the Legislature approving the 2014 budget (including the Lipoa Point funds) this Friday to make everything official.”
The HILT credited what they called a “robust partnership” with Save Honolua Coalition, Surfrider Foundation, and the County of Maui, as well as the work of lawmakers Angus McKelvey and Roz Baker for their role in the measure’s success.
The HILT announcement further stated the following:
“In the coming months we look forward to working with the state Department of Land and Natural Resources and Maui Land and Pineapple on the details of the purchase. We also look forward to working with our partners on building a management plan and funding future protection activities on the property.”
In testimony on the bill provided last month by John Carty, vice president of the Save Honolua Coalition, he said, “The unstable financial condition of the land owner, Maui Land & Pineapple Company looms over the open space of Honolua like a dark cloud.”
“Many factors are coming together to make now our best chance to Save Honolua and create a win-win situation for all involved,” said Carty.
Ryan Churchill, the president and chief operating officer of ML&P, also provided written testimony in March saying,
“While Maui Land & Pineapple Company, Inc. has been working for many years with the community, including the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust, Save Honolua Coalition, and various government agencies in their efforts to acquire the coastal lands surrounding and North of Honolua Bay, we have never consummated a deal because of the lack of agreement on the acquisition price and the fact that there was never assurances that these entities had the financial resources to acquire this parcel.”
In testimony, Churchill said he is supportive of HB 1424, “only if” there is both legislative approval and appropriation of funds. He said the potential acquisition must be based on market values based on the property’s highest and best use, with complete assurance that it will be acquired with cash.
Among the concerns also expressed by Churchill was the issue of unfunded pension obligations.
The item, HB 1424, SD2, is now scheduled for review by a conference committee this afternoon.